The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Nov. 2, 2001

UI Museum of Art will present two exhibitions that explore African /American identities

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art will explore African identity in the Americas in "African Inspirations: Sculpted Headwear by Sonya Clark" and "African in America: An Installation by Olabayo Olaniyi," on display at the museum Nov. 16 through Jan. 13, 2002.

The opening of the exhibitions will be celebrated at the museum at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16. Clark will lead a gallery tour of her exhibition, followed by a musical performance by Olaniyi.

"African Inspirations" and "African In America" comprise a two-part exhibition that investigates how art may be used to explore personal identity. The exhibition presents two artists who borrow, reshape, and recombine existing forms to create evocative works of art that express their complex identities. Both Sonya Clark and Olabayo Olaniyi have, like many Americans, roots in more than one culture.

Sonya Clark, a professor of textiles and design at the University of Wisconsin, uses her sculpture to explore her personal history as an artist of Caribbean and African descent. She creates hats and head adornments to express her personal biography, drawing on her deep understanding of the important roles played by hats and coiffures in African cultures.

Her work combines a wide range of media, from plant fibers and beads to pennies and plastics. Several examples of African hats from the permanent collection will be exhibited along with Clark's reinterpretations of the forms.

As a tandem to the Sonya Clark exhibition, sculptor Olabayo Olaniyi will create an installation piece in an adjoining space. Olaniyi is a Nigerian artist and musician and a former student at the University of Iowa who is has taught at the University of Michigan. He draws upon the rich symbolic and artistic traditions of his Yoruba background to create evocative sculpture and installations. His work addresses issues of identity, particularly as an African artist working within the U.S. art education system and art market.

For information on the UI Museum of Art, visit on the World Wide Web. Information is available on other UI arts events at

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.